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One-way travel insurance

If you're travelling without a definite return date, one-way travel insurance is probably your best option.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 14 October 2019  | 4 min read

Key points

  • You might need one-way travel insurance if you’re backpacking or leaving the country for more than 18 months
  • If you’re taken seriously ill, some policies include repatriation cover that’ll move you to your chosen destination, instead of back to the UK
  • Unlike multi-trip insurance, one-way cover stops when you reach your destination

When one-way travel insurance is your best option

You’ll need one-way travel insurance if you’re:

  • Travelling without a return ticket
  • Leaving the country for a long time
  • Planning a multi-week, one-way cruise. You might also want to check your travel insurance also covers your cruise
  • An expat returning to your home country, but stopping off at other destinations along the way

What's covered

One-way policies cover the same things as a standard travel insurance policy, like medical treatment, repatriation, your luggage and belongings, cancellation, trip delays and disruption.


Pros and cons of one-way travel insurance

One-way travel insurance considers your final destination.

For example, if you fall seriously ill on holiday, standard travel insurance will pay for you to be repatriated to the country you departed from.

One-way travel insurance will repatriate you to the country you’re heading to.

On the downside, a one-way policy will probably have a time limit - so your cover starts from the beginning of your journey and ends as soon as you arrive.

Although, some policies can be extended to cover a ‘settling in’ period.

Another benefit is that you can submit a claim immediately, from whatever country you’re in at that moment, rather than waiting until you’ve reached your destination.


One-way travel insurance isn't for expats

One-way travel insurance usually won’t cover you if you’re emigrating or moving abroad.

This is because most policies state you must be a UK resident to purchase travel insurance.

You’re considered a UK resident if:

  • You spend 183 or more days in the UK
  • Your only home is in the UK, which you must have owned, rented or lived in for at least 91 days in total. And you spend at least 30 days there per tax year

You can get expat travel insurance to cover you while you’re moving abroad, but this isn’t necessarily the same thing as one-way cover, so check the terms of travel insurance policies to see exactly what’s covered before you buy.

Your EHIC won’t cover you if you’re moving to Europe either, as it only covers certain aspects of your healthcare during a temporary stay, not if you are - or are planning to be - a resident of the destination.

Instead, expats will need to register with the local healthcare system and consider getting health insurance.

Some policies might also have exclusions around working abroad and specific activities – especially the more adventurous types.

If you’re shipping items separately, like furniture, you’ll need different insurance for that. Standard one-way travel insurance won’t cover your belongings if they're not with you.

You’ll need to get a separate policy if you’re taking any pets with you too. They’ll need their own pet passport and other travel documents as well.


The difference between one-way travel cover and annual policies

Annual travel insurance provides cover for multiple individual trips within a year. Each trip can’t last more than a month and must start and end in the UK.

Long-stay insurance - often called a backpackers or gap year policy - is for trips that lasts no more than 18 months where you’re travelling from, and returning to, the UK.

If you’re looking for one-way travel insurance, it’s unlikely you’re planning to return to the UK anytime soon, so annual or backpackers’ travel insurance won’t be suitable.


Annual travel insurance isn't an alternative

If you buy an annual travel insurance policy, there’s a danger that you won’t be properly covered.

Annual policies only cover trips between 30 and 90 days long and won’t cover you for medical care in between trips. Your holiday also needs to start and end in the UK.

If you can’t find a one-way policy that suits you, and annual cover doesn’t fit your needs, you might be better off with a private medical care policy instead, but you won’t benefit from the other benefits offered by travel insurance.

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